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Wastewater plant suffers kill off
FUD reports that it will take time to build back the system

The nostrils of residents and passersby along with the presstalk line at farragutpress have been inundated with and about the odor coming from the First Utility District Wastewater Treatment Plant off Concord Road. For weeks residents have voiced concerns about the odor.Van Baxter, a Winding Ridge Trail resident, said, “I don’t notice it here at home but on occasion it does smell awfully bad when I’m driving down Concord Road. It seems to be getting worse.”

Louis Paletz, of Scenic Valley Lane, said, “I can’t remember in past years ever noticing it before. For a lot of years I wondered what the letters W-W-T-F meant. I’ve never noticed it before until the last month.”

Leann Cates, a resident of historic Concord, said the smell from the treatment facility is so bad that she can’t take her toddler out to play.

“It is disgusting beyond words,” she said. “When I open my front door and smell that, I start gagging.

“We’re in the process of buying our home and I’m thinking of backing out because of the problem across the street. You go outside and it’s like you’re in a ‘Port-A-Potty.’

“I’ve lived here for six years. It was bad before, but only once in a while. In the last year to a year- and-a-half, it’s bad all the time. I can’t open the windows at all.

“Something’s got to be done about this.”

According to FUD manager Ralph McCarter, the utility district is addressing the situation.

McCarter said the problem first appeared during the week of Dec. 12, 2005.

“First Utility District’s Wastewater Treatment Plant experienced an event that resulted in an “upset” in the biological treatment process,” he said. “We believe an illegal pollutant was dumped into the sewer collection system. When the unidentified pollutant reached the plant, the biological system was seriously impacted resulting in an odor being discharged from the plant. We immediately began to search for the cause of the upset and to re-establish the biological system.”

McCarter added that the recovery has been a slow process complicated by cold wastewater temperatures.

“While recovery is under way and the amount of the odor decreases each day, we do realize that it has been very unpleasant,” McCarter said. “We apologize for the unpleasant odor and ask for your patience during the recovery time. These odors are unpleasant, but they do not present a health risk.

“We have worked closely with Environmental Protection Agency officials and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation officials to minimize the impact of this event and find the polluter to prevent a recurrence. Although we are working diligently to speed up the recovery process, our consultants tell us that it may take a while to get back to normal. We continually monitor incoming flows for clues to the source of the problem, do daily analysis of plant performance and consult with process professionals and commercial laboratories.”

McCarter said the utility is looking for any information about the event.

He asks that if the public knows anything that is relevant to this event, please give the FUD staff a call at 865-966-9741.

“We also ask you to be observant and report any suspicious activities around any of our facilities, especially at manholes of our sewer collection system,” he said.

Carolyn Evans contributed to this story.


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